We’re about a month away from the final event for the Global Impact Award, our business plan competition that awards up to $50,000 to impactful, scalable, and sustainable Washington University in St. Louis ventures.
As the final event inches closer, we’re excited to introduce the four finalist teams who are vying for the big award. Check back each week for a new team profile!
First up is The Women’s Bakery.
About The Women’s Bakery:
Industry: Non-Profit/Social Enterprise/International Development
Total Number of Employees: 7
When They Formed: January 2015
Total Funding (as of August 2016): $260,000
What problem are you solving?
In places where nutrition, education and jobs are scarce, TWB teaches women to build businesses that feed communities and support families.
How do you solve the problem?
Through vocational business education, TWB equips women with the skills necessary to launch and profitably manage nutrition-centric bakeries. TWB’s specially tailored training model includes 150+ hours of theoretical and practical education. Women learn to source local, nutritious ingredients and to produce and sell nutritious, affordable breads in their communities – meeting local demand with local supply. Our breads are fortified with protein and micronutrients. With increased income, these women can invest in their family’s education, health, and improved nutrition.
About the Founding Team Members:
Founder / Co-Director
Oversees operations, personnel, strategic planning for model refinement / scalability, business development & fundraising, marketing
Markey received a BA in Communication in 2008 from Furman University, and she will receive her MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017.
Co-Founder & East Africa Program Director
Leads trainings, bakery launches, M&E, program development, strategic planning, and personnel management
Julie received a BS in Geology in 2010 from Macalester College.
East Africa Program Officer
Assists in ground operations, finance, business development, M&E, and program management
Meg received a BA in Environmental Studies in 2010 from St. Lawrence University and an MPH in 2015 from Boston University.
U.S. Program Officer
Responsible for program design & delivery in the U.S.; relationship management for TWB’s network of advocates; project support in E. Africa; & executive administration
Heather received a BA in American Studies in 2011 from Hendrix College.
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
Markey Culver: I enjoy seeing opportunity where others may see risk. I view business as a medium that consciously works for people. Building bakeries has become my means to creating access to opportunity, namely financial independence and social empowerment, for women globally.
Julie Greene: As an entrepreneur possibilities are immense; the chance to create something new, to define our own model, and in so doing, pursue my passion for women’s empowerment. Finding creative ways to transform systems that lead to social injustice is more than a compelling challenge for me—it’s a necessary one.
Meg North: Creativity. Being an entrepreneur allows me to bring innovative ideas and solutions to the table, test them, and see what works! TWB approaches challenges such as employment, education, nutrition in low resource settings and using my creativity to tackle these challenges is empowering.
Heather Newell: My favorite part of entrepreneurial work is leveraging what I care about, namely education, in new ways. TWB has allowed my work to extend into creating innovative spaces for women’s opportunity – and then experiencing women (throughout East Africa) using this opportunity for self-empowerment. I feel incredibly grateful to be able to take part in this kind of work.
What is the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur?
MC: There’s no roadmap. Often you jump headfirst into ambiguity and uncertainty. You must also repeatedly accept (and experience) failure as a necessary steppingstone to success.
JG: When you move in unchartered territory, you have no compass to guide you, no proven history of results to rely on. You have to create those for yourself, and until you see the results, everything can seem up in the air.
MN: Failure. Learning from your mistakes is part of the journey, but daily it is a challenge. Only from these mistakes can we make our programs better and our impact bigger.
HN: There is no handbook to what we do. It is challenging to venture into new risks and uncertain outcomes – but with those, come unprecedented results.
What is your #1 tip for building a strong team?
MC: Capable, passionate people who rise to the challenge of responsibility. People who are smarter, faster and stronger than you are.
JG: Seek people who are truly passionate about the work, who love to laugh, and who are willing to learn and grow and make mistakes together.
MN: Find team players – those that are passionate and value the importance of team.
HN: Believe the best in the people you work with. Grow with people who care about the larger picture of life. Have good coffee on hand always.
What is your must-read book?
MC: Harry Potter – all of them. And To Kill a Mockingbird.
JG: East of Eden by John Steinbeck
MN: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
HN: I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
What is your favorite entrepreneurial news source?
MC: TED Talks
JG: none listed
MN: My friends. Their work inspires me.
HN: Start Up Podcast
Like what you see? Follow along The Women’s Bakery journey: